Hofmann rearrangement

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The Hofmann rearrangement is the organic reaction of a primary amide to a primary amine with one fewer carbon atom.[1][2][3]

The reaction of bromine with sodium hydroxide forms sodium hypobromite in situ, which transforms the primary amide into an intermediate isocyanate. The intermediate isocyanate is hydrolyzed to a primary amine giving off carbon dioxide.

The reaction is named after its discoverer: August Wilhelm von Hofmann. This reaction is also sometimes called the Hofmann degradation, and should not be confused with the Hofmann elimination.


Several reagents can substitute for bromine. N-Bromosuccinimide and 1,8-Diazabicyclo[5.4.0]undec-7-ene (DBU) can effect a Hofmann rearrangement. In the following example, the intermediate isocyanate is trapped by methanol forming a carbamate.[4]

A mild alternative to bromine is also (bis(trifluoroacetoxy)iodo)benzene.[5]


  1. Hofmann, A. W. v. Ber. 1881, 14, 2725.
  2. Wallis, E. S.; Lane, J. F. Org. React. 1949, 3, 267-306. (Review)
  3. Shioiri, T. Comp. Org. Syn. 1991, 6, 800-806. (Review)
  4. Keillor, J. W.; Huang, X. Organic Syntheses, Coll. Vol. 10, p.549 (2004); Vol. 78, p.234 (2002). (Article)
  5. Almond, M. R.; Stimmel, J. B.; Thompson, E. A.; Loudon, G. M. Organic Syntheses, Coll. Vol. 8, p.132 (1993); Vol. 66, p.132 (1988). (Article)

See also